“Mental illness doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care how old you are. It doesn’t care what colour you are, what job you do or how many followers you have on social media”.
These are the wise words of Alexa Towersey at our networking event held at The Shelbourne hotel on 28 August 2019. SThree Australia organised this event in partnership with LIVIN with the aim of raising mental health awareness in the workplace. It was a great opportunity to invite our candidates and clients to join us in this cause and learn more about mental health and how to offer a supportive social group at work. Alexa delivered a powerful talk on the importance of mental health and reminded everyone that “it ain’t weak to speak”. As a LIVIN ambassador, Alexa focuses on educating, empowering and inspiring people to have more conversations that could save more lives.
What do statistics show on mental health?
As at July 2019, the Australian government has reported that suicide is the leading cause of death in Australia amongst people aged 15-24 (35%) as well as people aged 25-44 (21%). Indigenous Australians have the highest suicide rate in the world and eight Australians on average take their own lives every day. Statistics on mental health in Australia also indicate that approximately 50% of Australians will experience some form of mental illness throughout the course of their lives. Of those 50% of Australians, less than 50% will ask for help due to social stigma.
This is partly due to the workforce having a negative preconceived notion towards people experiencing mental distress. Many people also have reservations on working with a colleague who may be experiencing depression or anxiety. This is why people experiencing mental illness would often think that their colleagues won’t be able to understand what they’re going through and would therefore choose not to draw attention to themselves in fear of being a burden. Workplaces today need to be more inclusive and let their employees know that it is a safe place to speak. In fact it is quite empowering to be able to help someone in need and be able to change someone’s life for the better. Employee feedback from the State of Workplace Mental Health in Australia indicated that progress on removing the stigma of mental health in an organisation should also be top-down as they believe that senior management have the ability to positively influence workplace culture. It is all about giving the support that our colleague or employee deserves and knowing what signs to look for and what to listen for.
Warning signs and symptoms of mental illness
Alexa shared that “mental health is as common as physical health but it is not viewed the same way. Just like physical health, early intervention is the best intervention”. Warning signs can be both physical and behavioural – ‘physical’ due to changes in appetite and neglected appearance; and ‘behavioural’ due to changes in character, sleep or poor concentration. Alexa also revealed that significant and dramatic changes in behaviour for a prolonged amount of time (three weeks or longer) are indications that someone could be experiencing mental illness.
You have the power to change someone’s life
If you ever detect a change in your colleague’s or employee’s behaviour or physical appearance, just simply ask them if they are ok. You may be surprised and get a response. If you don’t, that’s still ok. At least the other person knows that there are people out there who care and are willing to help. They might then reach out later on. Sometimes, the words that we use to communicate can also make a huge difference. For example, rather than telling someone that you can see that they are struggling with a mental illness, you can rephrase this in a more considerate way and say “you’re being challenged right now. Is there anything I can do to help?” Alexa also shared that it is important to find the right people who can support you to become a better version of yourself, rather than enable negativity.
Help yourself first before helping others
If you are not in the right frame of mind, it would be quite difficult to project positivity onto another person and try to make the other person feel better. On this note, Alexa shared that “self-care is not selfish, it is not self-indulgent. It is self-preservation” and we couldn’t agree more. Self-care can be the simplest thing such as walking your dog, meditating, exercising or even writing a gratitude journal to help you reframe the world in a better light. In her personal journey with mental health, Alexa’s outlet was on the gym floor as being physically strong evoked strong thoughts in her. If you don’t enjoy exercising, you can practise positive affirmations and visualise a positive outcome to help you restore your mindset.
Thank you to all our clients and candidates for joining us in this cause
On behalf of SThree Australia, we would like to extend a warm thank you to everyone who attended our event in partnership with LIVIN. We take an active role in contributing to the mental health of our employees as well as all the candidates that we place with our clients and we are glad that our attendees have obtained valuable takeaways from our event.
“I wanted to say thanks for organising last night’s event. It was a great talk from LIVIN and it provided me with some practical tips on how I can help others going through mental illness” – Thomas Kuruvilla, Senior Solutions Designer at QBE Insurance.
“I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your efforts last night. The room was great and everyone seemed to respond well to Alexa’s presentation. We really appreciate you taking the initiative to support LIVIN and help us to increase awareness in your network” – Tatum Pearce, Event Producer at LIVIN.
We can help
We are proud to partner with clients who support mental health awareness. If you are a candidate looking for your next opportunity with a company that offers great mental health benefits or if you are an organisation looking for your next hire; contact us at 02 9285 1000 for a confidential discussion.